My last post covered the entire chapter focusing on the “A” words. When I first read Luke 19, the first story about Zacchaeus made me sing “Oh, Zaachaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he! He climbed up in a Sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see! For the Lord he wanted to see.” I remember this much of the song from my early VBS days. My focus today will just be on Zaachaeus.
All we are told in Luke was that he was small in a stature and a tax collector. Researching “who was Zacchaeus” shows that he was more than a tax collector. He was the chief tax collector in Jericho, a major city on the West bank of the Jordan River. Zacchaeus, which means “pure”, was a descendant of Abraham yet he was not well liked due to his profession. Most tax collectors were viewed as thieves or cheats, and Zacchaeus was no different as all accounts state he was a rich man. The region was rich with a product known as “balsam” (sap to us) used for medicinal purposes. With the balsam production, the tax collected was higher than in other nearby regions.
We read in our text, 3 And he was seeking to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was small in stature. Zacchaeus must have heard about Jesus and wanted to see who he was. I am assuming given his stature, he must have climbed trees before to get a better view. We know he climbs this Sycamore tree to get a better view of Jesus. Little did he know what would happen next!
5 And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down, for I must stay at your house today.”
No preparation. No warning. No way to expect this turn of events! Zacchaeus seemed to be prepared to host his guest. Grumbling, moaning, disbelief from the crowd ensued. How could Jesus leave with a “sinner’? What was Jesus thinking going to Zacchaeus’ home? Yet off these two men went. I wonder what Zacchaeus was thinking? “Oh no, now I’m in trouble!” Or was he thinking “maybe this is my way to salvation?” Who knows. He was overjoyed to have this guest in his home!
As the story unfolds, Zacchaeus immediately repents and seeks salvation. 8 And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold.” 9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. 10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Another story of Jesus’ power, influence and healing over this “sinner”. If the Lord appeared and wanted to come to your house, would you be prepared? What would you say? What would you do to receive salvation?